Family forced to live in Travelodge for months after being evicted from home

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Charlene Pascoe and her three children claim to have been living in a hotel ever since the council evicted them from their rental home earlier this year and left them with nowhere else to go. The family has relied on family and friends for meals and playtime away from their Travelodge room.

For the past 15 weeks, Travelodge in St Austell, Cornwall, has been the home of Charlene, 34, Freya, 12, Kieran, 10, and two-year-old Darcy.

Up to 40% of properties in some areas of Cornwall are second homes.

Charlene said: “Somebody said to me at the beginning, ‘look at it like a holiday’ – it’s most certainly not a holiday.”

In March the family from St Blazey had to leave the property they were renting when the landlord decided to move back in.

Charlene could not find anywhere in the area that was affordable for the family to live in, so they spent the first night after the tenancy ended on her mum’s floor.

Cornwall Council then booked them into a Premier Inn for a week before they were moved into the Travelodge where they have remained since.

It is now 15-weeks-later and they are no closer to being rehomed. Charlene says she is struggling to cope.

Their room has just three beds, a bathroom, a kettle and a cool box – with no kitchen or living area.

Charlene’s mother, Sonia Johns, 57, lives a 15-minute drive away, with the family spending as much time there as possible.

Sonia is able to cook dinner for the children and wash their clothes, and her house is also somewhere the children can spend some time away from the hotel room, which is littered with all their belongings.

Charlene, a support worker for adults with learning difficulties, said: “We’ve had to put the majority of things in storage but the stuff we need still takes up loads of space. I look every day for houses on the council website to get us out of this mess but you can only bid on one property a week and it’s always so busy.

“I have one daughter in big school, a son in junior school and a toddler starting nursery in September, but if we can’t find somewhere soon they’ll have to move schools. Every day organising meals is stressful as we have nowhere to store food so it’s daily trips to the shops.

“We then cook the food from that shop at mum’s and do it all again the next day. I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have mum’s place because as soon as we wake up in the morning that’s where we go. We then only come back to the Travelodge to sleep otherwise it’s just too much.”

Charlene says it has been particularly difficult raising toddler Darcy at the Travelodge, because noise from other rooms and the car park stops her getting to sleep.

The hotel staff are sympathetic and let Kieran and Freya watch TV in the cafe while Charlene puts her to bed.

Charlene pays £3.10 per night as a service charge for the room, with Cornwall Council covering the rest.

She has to find out from reception staff every three weeks whether the payment for the room has been extended, which she finds incredibly stressful.

“Having a two-year-old is a complete nightmare as everything is in her reach,” Charlene said. “She either stays in her travel cot or her portable high chair when we’re in the room, as it’s to dangerous to let her crawl around.

“At the moment it’s quite noisy as it’s the summer holiday, and people are often slamming doors and shouting. It is also ridiculously hot but when you open the windows there is more noise pollution.

“The hotel staff have been amazing throughout and they’re always willing to help out if we need.”

She added: “At the minute they’re paying for the room, but there is a service charge I’ll have to reimburse them with at some point. I’ve worked out it should be around £350 by now – but again, I’ve had no communication from them about when this is to be paid.

“Renting privately is just too expensive so we are limited in the options we have. All I can do is keep looking for council housing in the hope that I get lucky – although at the minute it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

A spokesperson for the Cornwall Council said: “We sympathise with the position that some residents are finding themselves in as Cornwall continues to face extreme pressure on the availability of housing.

“We are committed to providing support for any resident faced with homelessness.

“However, there is a high demand for accommodation, including our own housing stock, properties that we rent, and other accommodation. 

“We continue to offer support to all those living in emergency accommodation to help them find long-term homes.

“We are taking action to address Cornwall’s housing crisis from increasing the availability of emergency accommodation to increasing the delivery of new council housing for social rent and shared ownership.

“We are working hard to find suitable emergency accommodation for all those who need it and are investing £39m to increase the Council’s own stock of temporary accommodation to reduce the reliance on short-term hotel and B&B accommodation.  

“This includes the purchase of new modular homes, buying and refurbishing disused properties and providing dedicated ‘move on’ accommodation to support former rough sleepers on their journey towards settled, permanent, homes. ”

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